India allows free import of gold, silver

Thursday, 29 January 2004, 08:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: India Wednesday lifted remaining curbs on imports of gold and silver by allowing bullion traders and individuals to procure them from overseas without having to go through 15 designated canalising agencies.

"Import of gold and silver will now be allowed freely," said Commerce Minister Arun Jaitley announcing a "mini" export-import (Exim) policy at a meeting here of an overseas traders lobby.

"India is on the verge of becoming a jewellery manufacturing hub. This move will boost gold trading in the country," he said.

Canalising agencies like MMTC Ltd and others will no longer be required as "anyone can now import gold by paying the required custom duty", he said.

Bullion traders were divided in their reaction to the lifting of curbs.

Tara Chand Jalan, a leading bullion merchant in the capital, said, "With no reduction in import duty, there will be no major benefit as individuals lack the infrastructure like huge capital and insurance cover available with canalising agencies to import large quantities.

"For large traders it may still be more attractive to go through them."

On the other hand, Jalan told IANS, with the move of freeing imports "canalising agencies may bring down their commissions and there could be better buyer-seller relations".

Delhi Bullion Merchants Association general secretary Shri Khrishan Goyal said earlier, individuals desiring to import required a special licence, "the new regime of free imports will help small traders in particular as they would be able to invest in procuring small quantities by bringing it themselves or getting others to bring it".

Goyal saw a continuing role for canalising agencies if they reduced the 125 fee charged for 10 grams of 24 carat gold as commission.

"Now not only will small traders be able to import freely, but there will be a saving of the 125 commission charged by the canalising agency. Individuals and non-resident Indians will be able to bring gold as part of their baggage after paying customs duty," he said.

The largest importer and consumer of gold, India has a flat customs duty of 100 for 10 grams.

Source: IANS
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